The 3 Shining Work Moments Icebreaker

Team building icebreaker that employees enjoy

Business people having discussion at meeting
••• Klaus Vedfelt/ Iconica/ Getty Images

If you're looking for a winning team building icebreaker that you can use for meetings, training classes, team building sessions, and company events and activities, you've come to the right place. The three shining work moments team building icebreaker creates group cohesiveness and cooperation in a natural and professional way.

The goal of the exercise is to help participants build a cohesive team by learning about and appreciating, each other's strengths with this icebreaker.

To understand who much time you'll need, if you have a group of twenty-four participants, the icebreaker will take approximately 90 minutes. It is appropriate for a team building day-long or multiple-day session, as well as the main event in a team building session that lasts a few hours. 

The 7 Step Process

  1. Divide the meeting participants into groups of four people by having them number off, one through four. Have your number ones sit with the other ones, your number twos with the other twos, and so forth. You do this because people generally sit next to the people they already know and work well with. The goal is to help participants get to know the other people in the organization.
  2. Tell the groups that their assignment is to look back over their careers and identify three events, activities, accomplishments, collaborations, or moments of recognition by others that were shining or important to them. Think of these touchstones as career highlights. Allow about ten minutes for the participants to think about the question and jot down ideas before you ask them to share their thoughts with their small group.
    If some people are relatively new to the workforce, ask them to share moments from college classes, part-time jobs, internships, or volunteer work. Everyone has shining moments.
  3. When all participants are ready, ask them to share their shining moments with their small group. For maximum impact, it's best to let each person share one shining moment at a time, then to move on to the next person. Tell the small group members to listen carefully and to look for common themes and similarities in the stories. For example, did many of the shining work moments involve praise and thank yous from a respected manager? Did the shining moments involve a raise and a promotion?
  4. Tell the groups that each person will be asked to share just one of their shining moments with the entire group upon completion of the small group exercise if they are comfortable doing so.
  5. To debrief the team building icebreaker, ask the group how they reacted to the icebreaker (i.e., their reaction to the experience of telling their own stories and hearing the stories of coworkers).
  6. Continue to debrief the icebreaker by asking the entire group if they noticed any themes in the stories. One theme that tends to be mentioned a lot is about receiving recognition for one's work. Other common stories center around promotions and successful product launches. While managing this exercise it's important to let your participants draw their own conclusions. 
  7. When the team building icebreaker discussion is finished, ask the participants if they have anything they'd like to add to the discussion before closing the session.

If you find this exercise useful, you may want to look into other team building exercises such as Keys to Team Building Success: Make Team Building Activities Successful, How to Build a Teamwork Culture, and The 5 Teams Every Organization Needs.